"Brain, shake out thy water, dog-like." -- Ron Padgett

Monday, April 17, 2017

Editing and Revising.

1. Line break. 
Add line breaks to the following sentence (the entire text of a poem by Nelson Ball)

Jack Pine

Like a painting of itself in wide short brush strokes its smooth grey bark turns dark and scaly

2. Write the worst poem you can think of.
In what ways can you make it bad (and not just gross or with awful content)?

3. Revision

What is the poem trying to do?
      Are there elements that are interfering with that? 
     Are there ways to make what it is trying to do more effective? More focussed, dramatic, complex, engaging?

Are there other things that the poem could do, possibilities or opportunities that it is missing?

Consider: extra words (redundant, sloppy, unneeded), precise words, clichés, surprises vs. lack of surprises, "energy drops" of content form or image.

How can the poem better establish or embody its own aesthetic?

Can you sculpt the better poem out the existing one?

What can be moved around to make it better? (Reordering stanzas, lines, reversing the whole poem, changing stanza breaks, deleting, adding, cutting own opening or ending for more charge.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Seamus Heaney -- Documentary

An excellent interview with the great Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, so well renowned he's known as "Famous Seamus."


Monday, February 6, 2017


What can it be?
We read “Thank you for saying Thank you” by Charles Bernstein http://wings.buffalo.edu/epc/authors/bernstein/reviews/silliman2.html
Varese said that music is “Organized Sound.” Is poetry is “organized language”? (Are Orangutan’s orangutanized apes?)
Does poetry have to be comprised of words? Can it include nonstandard language or communication? The unspellable? The unsayable? The invisible?
Can poetry represent or embody an entirely different way of engaging with the world, with thought, with self, with language? What implicit assumptions are inherent in standard language (grammar, semantics, structures, spelling, lexicon, etc.)?
Does poetry have to “express” anything? Does it have to be filled with feels? Does it have to “mean” anything”?
We listened to “sound poetry” by The Four Horsemen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=843O0bTVKHQ&spfreload=10
What is the role of reading in poetry? Of interpretation? Of context?
We looked at “The Swan” a shape poem which Michele brought in. She also suggested this poetry video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4Up0drnXX4
Can a poem be a video game? http://vispo.com/arteroids/indexenglish.htm
A video poem: https://vimeo.com/81195711 a modern revisioning of the Anglo Saxon poem, The Wayfarer.
1. Write a poem about nothing. Or about as little as you possibly can? Is this even possible? Are we meaning-making organisms and will always map some kind of sense or sensibility onto texts, art objects, or indeed, the world?
A couple years ago, I wrote about this and also linked to a VSauce video about the world’s shortest poem.
2. A poem is what is left out. Write a short prose piece about a scar that you got, or else make up a story about one. Tear the prose it in half. Which half makes a better poem? How does what is left out add to the drama, the rhythm, the pacing, the reader involvement, and perhaps makes the “poem” about more than its surface.
3. Haiku.
Traditional Japanese haiku is usually about nature and has a strict syllabic form. Modern English-language haiku doesn’t necessary abide by anything like this. It is usually more about the ‘just-so-ness’ or “a-ha! moment” of juxtapositions in the poem. We listened to a couple haiku by Jack Kerouac: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJdxJ5llh5A&spfreload=10
Here’s a haiku by Ron Padgett:
First: five syllables.

Second: seven syllables.

Third: five syllables.

Write an instant haiku
-write several short sentences each describing something happening in the city
-write several describing something happening in nature

Now choose two city sentences and match them with one nature sentence. Explore which nature sentence creates the most energy when juxtaposed with the city sentence.

Layli Long Soldier writes about the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Layli Long Soldier writes about the Dakota Access Pipeline.


Monday, January 9, 2017

When I Have the Body of a Man by Elizabeth Bachinsky

When I have the body of a man, I have the head of a bull.

When I have the head of a bull, Athena springs from my forehead.

When Athena springs from my forehead, I tell Athena, Cut it out!

When I tell Athena, Cut it out! she makes a string of paper dolls from my money.

When she makes a string of paper dolls from my money, I say Thank you, fold them up, and put them in a drawer.

When I say Thank you, fold them up, and put them in a drawer, the dolls figure out a way to
get out and use eBay when I'm not at home.

When the dolls figure out a way to get out and use eBay when I'm not at home, I know I've not had enough to drink.

When I know I've not had enough to drink, I admire my fortitude.

When I admire my fortitude, Athena says, Cut it out!

When Athena says, Cut it out! one should always listen.

When one should always listen, I think, Don't tell me what to do with my time!

When I think Don't tell me what to do with my time! 
I have the body of a man.


Thanks for Saying Thank you

Link to Charles Bernstein: Thanks for Saying Thank You and Ron Silliman's analysis.

What Use is Poetry?

What Use Is Poetry?

In an address to the Yale Political Union on April 23, 2013, Meena Alexander began with a line from Shelley’s 1821 essay, “A Defence of Poetry.” The resolution—“Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world”—led to a lively debate. What follows is a slightly revised version of the text she wrote for that occasion.